Yankees legend Masahiro Tanaka appears to suggest he moved back to Japan to protect his family from racism in the US

·2 min read
masahiro tanaka
Masahiro Tanaka during the 2020 MLB season. David Dermer/AP Images
  • Former Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka appeared to tell a Japanese newspaper that his family suffered from racism in the U.S.

  • Tanaka and his family left the U.S. to play in Japan for two years.

  • Tanaka's quotes come amid a spike of hate crimes against Asian Americans.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Former New York Yankees pitch Masahiro Tanaka returned to Japan to play professionally after seven years in MLB.

In an interview with a Japanese newspaper, Tanaka appeared to suggest that one of the reasons he and his family chose to return to Japan was because they faced racism amid the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a translation from Google on the Japanese newspaper's website, Tanaka said his son felt insecure at school and that they were "discriminated against." He also said his wife felt "anxiety" in the U.S.

In April of 2020, Tanaka tweeted that during training camp, he and his family had returned to Japan after "there was an event that made me feel danger other than the new coronavirus infection, and I decided to return home."

According to Lindsey Adler of The Athletic, Tanaka never elaborated on the incident.

Tanaka played the 2020 season with the Yankees, but upon entering free agency, signed a two-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.

Tanaka's quotes come amid a spike of hate crimes against Asian-Americans in the United States.

During spring training, San Diego Padres pitcher Yu Darvish, who is also Japanese, said he felt that racial discrimination had increased since the beginning of the pandemic.

"I have not been directly attacked, either verbally or physically, since I came to the United States. But in reality, many people are suffering from (discrimination)," Darvish told reporters.

He added: "There was a little racial discrimination before this against Asians in America ... but I feel it's increased."

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